124,000 lone parents forced off income support onto jobseeker’s allowance

A new report has highlighted the position of 124,000 lone parents with young children who are being forced onto jobseeker’s allowance with only eight weeks’ notice.

From 21 May 2012 single parents who are not in paid employment and whose youngest child is 5 or 6 will no longer be entitled to claim income support. Instead they will need to claim jobseeker’s allowance or another benefit. This is one of the first provisions in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to come into force.

Gingerbread, which campaigns on behalf of lone parents, says the move will push people into a labour market with few job opportunities, and even fewer family-friendly jobs – 17 months before support for childcare costs in ‘mini-jobs’ becomes available under the new universal credit arrangements. It calls for:

  • lone parents with children aged 5–6 who take up further education courses to be treated as fulfilling work search obligations
  • financial help towards childcare costs for those working less than 16 hours a week via the flexible support fund
  • support from Jobcentre Plus advisers trained in lone parent issues.

Describing the new arrangements, the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘lone parents will start getting the help they need to look for work earlier rather than stay on benefits’.

Source: It’s Off to Work we Go? Moving from Income Support to Jobseeker’s Allowance for Single Parents with a Child Aged Five, Gingerbread

Links: Report | Gingerbread press release | DWP press release | Daily Telegraph report